Multiple Arrests as Sunoco Logistics Clears Forest in Huntingdon

From SEED: Another person, Ellen Gerhart, was arrested this morning and has since been released. Bail for the two other arrestees has been set at $100,000 for one, $200,000 for the other.  Tax-deductible donations for legal fees and logistical costs are being accepted and managed by Energy Justice Network. The link for online donations is http://energyjusticesummer.org/donate-to-the-gerhart-fight-against-sunocos-mariner-2-pipeline/

Checks to “Energy Justice Network” with “Mariner” in the memo can also be mailed to 1434 Elbridge St Philadelphia 19149.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contact: Coryn Wolk

March 29, 2016 (215) 360-3564 / cwolk@cleanair.org

TWO ARRESTED AS SUNOCO LOGISTICS CLEARS FOREST IN HUNTINGDON

Police Back Pipeline Despite Lack of Permits, Landowner Objections

Huntingdon, PA – Backed by Pennsylvania state police and Huntingdon County sheriff’s deputies, on March 29, Sunoco Logistics Partners’ chainsaws cut a swath through forest that the Gerhart family had protected for decades, clearing the way for the Mariner East 2 pipeline.

Ellen and Stephen Gerhart
Ellen and Stephen Gerhart

Hundreds of Pennsylvania residents had called and emailed Governor Tom Wolf and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) on March 28, requesting that they intervene to prevent Sunoco from felling trees in sensitive areas without the necessary water-crossing and erosion permits. But the DEP declined to stop Sunoco from felling trees, saying on March 29 that Sunoco “indicated” that it is not cutting trees near water bodies or in wetlands. On the same day, Sunoco’s crews were observed cutting trees on steep slopes and allowing them to fall across streambeds, trespassing outside the pipeline right-of-way and allowing trees to fall outside its boundaries. Some falling trees narrowly missed observers who were standing, legally, outside of the right-of-way.

By the end of the day’s cutting, multiple sections of streams and wetlands were filled with trees, branches and sawdust. In response to the near-misses and complaints of Sunoco tree-cutters trespassing, state troopers said that observers were responsible for their own safety and claimed they were not aware that pipeline workers had to stay inside the right-of-way.

Those opposing the cutting were treated differently. State police arrested an Altoona resident, who is alleged to have crossed into the right-of-way to warn crews that a tree they were about to cut held a safety line for one of three tree-sitting protesters, as well as another observer who had been telling crews to stay inside the right-of-way. The two were taken to Huntingdon County jail and charged with indirect contempt of court and disorderly conduct. Bail for both was set at $100,000. They face up to six months in jail for the charge of contempt of court, and at least one faces a year for an additional charge of misdemeanor disorderly conduct.

On Monday, March 28th, Huntingdon County’s President Judge George N. Zanic had issued Sunoco an emergency injunction to allow tree-clearing to proceed. The family intended to appeal that decision, but the chainsaws arrived before they were able to do so.

Cutting is expected to continue on Wednesday, March 30.

BACKGROUND

Ellen and Stephen Gerhart purchased the property in 1982 and placed it in the Forest Stewardship Program, pledging never to develop it. Now they are fighting seizure of their property by eminent domain, in a case that is still in litigation. The Gerhart family refused a cash offer from the company, stating concern about the impact of the pipeline on the environment and on their community’s health, safety and well-being.

“We are living, breathing Pennsylvanians who have tried to preserve this land,” Stephen Gerhart, 85, wrote in a letter to Judge Zanic. “Sunoco is a billions of dollar, faceless entity, based in Texas. The products that they want to transport through our land are not needed in Pennsylvania, or anywhere else in the United States.”

“Our opposition to the project,” said Ellen Gerhart, “has to do with our rights as property owners and stewards of the environment. You would think that government officials who have sworn to uphold the Pennsylvania Constitution would do so, but they’re ignoring their responsibility and allowing out-of-state companies to run over the rights of Pennsylvania citizens.”

In early March, the Gerharts hired Schmid & Company Consulting Ecologists to conduct an independent analysis of the waterbodies and wetlands on their property. Schmid & Company found that Sunoco had undercounted the number of wetlands on the property by a factor of seven. The Gerharts then asked the Pennsylvania DEP to put a stop to tree clearing for the pipeline until Sunoco secured the necessary erosion and water-crossing permits, a recommendation supported by Schmid & Company.

“I believe it is unwise public policy to allow private parties to damage the environment prior to any determination that the proposed impacts are either necessary or unavoidable,” James Schmid wrote in a letter to Judge Zanic before Monday’s hearing. “But that is what appears to be about to happen here.”

Before tree-clearing began, Dr. Mark Bonta, a member of the Environmental Studies faculty at Penn State Altoona, looked at the Gerhart’s property and said that “it appears to be a model for how to leave an upland woods and forested wetland alone to foster biodiversity.”

Sunoco Logistics Partners is a company controlled by Energy Transfer Partners of Dallas. It has contracts with European petrochemical companies for the export and sale of massive amounts of NGLs that would flow through the Mariner East 2 pipeline. On March 24, after a two-week journey from Marcus Hook, Pa., the first export shipment of ethane from Sunoco’s Mariner East 1 pipeline reached Norway on the Ineos Intrepid, the largest multi-gas carrier in the world; it would be one of eight ships in a planned “virtual pipeline” carrying Mariner East ethane to petrochemical depots in Europe.

Sunoco LP is embroiled in dozens of eminent domain cases across the state. Landowners and residents  are banding together to oppose its massive NGL export project, saying that it is unnecessary and is not for public use, while the company claims it is a public utility with eminent domain rights.

 

BREAKING: Activists Hanging from Stadium to Protest Bank of America

Activists Suspended From Upper Deck of Stadium During Monday Night Football to Protest Bank of America Financing of LNG Export Terminal

We Are Cove Point demands Bank of America stop financing Dominion’s Cove Point LNG export terminal and other fracked gas infrastructure

Note: This kicks off the Bank of America “Dump Dominion” campaign. Please support this effort by

  1. Donating to the bail fund here.
  2. Visiting DumpDominion.org
  3. Spreading the word!

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA — In protest of Bank of America’s role in financing the planned liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility in Cove Point, Maryland, activists from We Are Cove Point have suspended themselves from the upper deck of Bank of America Stadium during the Monday Night Football game between the Charlotte Panthers and the Indianapolis Colts. They dropped a banner that reads, “BoA: Dump Dominion, WeAreCovePoint.org,” that was seen by the stadium audience of more than 70,000 people.

Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) has played a major role in financing Dominion Resources (NYSE: D) and its $3.8 billion LNG export facility at Cove Point through Dominion Midstream (NYSE: DM). Bank of America is part of a consortium of banks that is lending Dominion up to $4 billion to finance several planned gas infrastructure projects. In June 2013, Bank of America also underwrote $275 million to contribute to the capital expense of the Dominion Cove Point facility. We Are Cove Point activists are now calling on Bank of America and other lending institutions to stop financing Dominion.

Since oil and gas prices have plummeted, industry experts have increasingly seen LNG export facilities as bad investments, and the financial sector has been inexplicably propping up the gas industry. As recently as August, a report from Bank of America itself warned that plummeting crude oil prices have hurt the prospects of LNG export projects. President and CEO Zin Smati of Engie’s GDF Suez Energy North America said, “You cannot ship gas from the United States anymore. … Nobody really is making money from LNG now. Certainly, we are not.”

Dominion Cove Point is a proposed LNG export terminal that is slated to send up to 1.8 billion cubic feet of LNG to Japan and India. The facility would be the only one in the world to be built in a densely populated area, in violation of basic safety siting standards. It would drive demand for harmful fracking across the Mid-Atlantic, emit more than 20 tons of hazardous air pollutants each year, and spew two million tons of greenhouse gases, making it Maryland’s fourth-largest climate polluter. LNG exports are predicted to increase domestic gas prices, resulting in economic loss for every major sector of the US economy besides the gas industry, according to a Navigant Consulting report commissioned by Dominion Cove Point and a NERA economic consulting report commissioned by the U.S. Department of Energy.

As more communities organize against the encroachment of gas infrastructure, Bank of America and other lending institutions are facing increasing pressure to stop financing dirty energy projects that negatively impact the lives and well-being of those living near export terminals, pipelines, compressor stations, fracking wells and gas-fired power plants.

A broad, strong coalition of people has been actively resisting Dominion Cove Point at every step since the fall of 2013. We Are Cove Point is a leading part of the effort to stop Dominion Cove Point and reclaim the Cove Point community from Dominion’s grip.

Participants in tonight’s action made the following comments:

“Bank of America is allowing companies like Dominion to operate without checks and balances,” said John Nicholson. “They are giving money directly to Dominion with full knowledge of the health and safety risks of building an LNG export facility, and they need to be accountable to that.”

Rica Madrid said, “America doesn’t need more cheap fuel on the market, and we especially don’t need to export those resources overseas. Dominion is building a facility that would contribute to the economic crisis our country is facing. Bank of America is financing the Cove Point LNG plant, and the surrounding community in Southern Maryland is forced to bear the human cost. This is unacceptable.”

For more information, visit WeAreCovePoint.org and DumpDominion.org.

Activists Disrupt Governor McAuliffe’s Keynote Address at Energy Symposium

Abingdon, VA — Five activists disrupted Governor McAuliffe’s keynote address at the Biennial Natural Resources and Energy Law Symposium today by performing a poem written specifically for the Governor and creatively demanding that he “call off” the proposed pipelines threatening to go through Virginia. The activists were members of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, SEED: Stopping Extraction and Exports Destruction, We Are Cove Point, and FANG: Fighting Against Natural Gas.

GovPlusGas
Activists block the audience’s view of Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe during his keynote speech at the Biennial Natural Resources and Energy Law Symposium with a banner that reads “Gov + Gas = BFFs 4 Life!”

Taking turns with each verse, they stood on chairs and recited a poem entitled “McAuliffe Knows” (see text below). It spotlighted the hypocrisy of the Governor, primarily regarding his continued support of several natural gas pipelines proposed to devastate Virginia and the Appalachian region. The group targeted the Governor and the event itself – a “symposium” made up largely of representatives from the energy industry, government and academia, to address the “array of energy opportunities in Appalachia.”

The Governor’s keynote address was timed to occur immediately prior to a panel on “Natural Gas Pipelines,” which included a representative from Dominion Resources. On Friday, September 18, 2015, a consortium of energy companies, including Dominion Resources, formally applied to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for permission to build the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a 564-mile natural gas pipeline that would pass through West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina. Another consortium, led by EQT Midstream Partners, is seeking to build the 300-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline, which would run from Wetzel County, West Virginia, to Pittsylvania County, Virginia.

According to the Appalachian School of Law’s Dan Caldwell, the day-long symposium was designed to “model an atmosphere of rational debate” in order to reach common ground on laws affecting energy production in Appalachia. Tickets for the event were $50 for students and as high as $200 for anyone not a member of a government or nonprofit group.

Whitney Whiting, a community organizer with Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League said, “The Governor continues to tout a ‘New Virginia Economy’ based on more fracking and more gas pipelines. But there is nothing ‘new’ about an economic system based on extraction and exploitation of land, people, and natural resources. How will fracked gas traveling through Virginia in massive pipelines benefit Appalachia? It won’t. It will benefit Dominion and EQT, not Virginians, or anyone else in the Appalachian region.”

The group’s participants said they had accomplished their goal of adding an extra voice to the day’s conversation, and by sending the message to Governor McAuliffe and industry representatives that the resistance to natural gas infrastructure in Virginia is stronger than ever.

*****

McAuliffe Knows

McAuliffe knows
that climate change is real.
And when it comes to pipelines
he knows just how we feel.

He knows that fracking sucks
but he must have neglected
to tell us that he only said that
just to get elected

he promised to be a “brick wall”
for women of the state
but does he think the health of our bodies
ends with how we choose to procreate?

does he know that families are slowly dying
from methane-poisoned air and waters?
that fossil fuels like natural gas
steal futures from our sons and daughters?

doesn’t he know that there’s nothing “new”
about an economy based on extraction?
that in Appalachia of all places
the promise of jobs has zero traction?

Because we all know, even if he doesn’t
that exploitation is not the answer
when bodies are sacrificed for profit,
the only growth is rates of cancer.

McAuliffe, we are not deceived.
from you we expect nothing.
your pipedream is our nightmare
Your lack of morality disgusting.

you see nothing wrong with profiting
off of the misery of our neighbors,
in time you’ll see, this pipeline
won’t do you any favors.

Calvert County Residents Join with Allies to Oppose Dominion Cove Point LNG

Photo: John Zangas
Photo: John Zangas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Resident of Lusby, Maryland Arrested Attempting to Deliver Petition at Pier Construction Site

November 10, 2014

Activists from across the country joined residents of Calvert County, Maryland at the Dominion Cove Point pier construction site to call on Virginia-based Dominion Resources to halt the project. Leslie Garcia, who lives in a neighborhood adjacent to the existing Cove Point facility in Lusby, Maryland, was arrested when she attempted to walk onto the site to deliver a call for the immediate and permanent cessation of construction to a Dominion representative. The remaining demonstrators, who numbered nearly fifty, maintained a picket line in front of the entrance to the site for two hours. The action was organized by Stopping Extraction and Exports Destruction (SEED), an umbrella group of mid-Atlantic activists fighting dirty energy projects.

Dominion is planning to build a $3.8 billion facility to bring nearly a billion cubic feet of gas per day from fracking wells across the Appalachian region, liquefy it on the Chesapeake Bay, and export it to Asia. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved the project on September 29. Critics of the project have raised concerns about the project’s potential environmental, health, and safety impacts at the local, national, and international levels.

Chief among local residents’ concerns is the fact that facility would be the first methane gas liquefaction plant ever built next to a densely populated residential neighborhood. As Garcia noted, “I live in Cove Point Beach. The only way out of my community, should there be an explosion at Dominion’s refinery, is to drive toward the disaster. I have nothing to lose by protesting, because we have everything to lose if this project continues.”

Other residents observed that the project has already had negative impacts on southern Maryland. The pier currently under construction, which would be used to bring in equipment too large to transport over land, is located about six miles south of the proposed export terminal. It is next to the base of the Thomas Johnson Bridge, where the Patuxent River flows into the Chesapeake Bay. In addition to concerns about the stability of the bridge and the danger of barges loaded with heavy equipment passing beneath it, construction of the pier requires the severe disturbance of oyster habitat in the river.

“This pier destroys the hundreds of species that exist on the oyster bar as an intimate web of inter-dependencies that took thousands of years to establish and work collectively to clean the Chesapeake Bay,” said science educator and Lusby resident Linda Morin. “This destruction of an ecosystem foreshadows the destruction to come with Dominion’s fracked gas refinery.”

Activists traveled from several other states, including Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, to demonstrate resistance to the project and show support for the residents fighting it. “I support communities that are fighting for life because all grievances are intertwined. We need to start taking stands with different communities in different parts of the country,” said Camila Ibañez from Utah Tar Sands Resistance.

Today’s protest occurred days after two major actions at the same site in which participants were arrested. On Monday, November 3, Kelly Canavan, president of AMP Creeks Council and an organizer with SEED, locked herself to a piece of construction equipment at the same site, delaying the start of the work day. She was extracted by members of the Calvert County Sheriff’s Department, arrested, and detained for several hours. On Tuesday, nine activists entered the site to demonstrate opposition as part of the Beyond Extreme Energy week of action. They were arrested, along with two photographers, and detained overnight.

For Twitter updates follow @SEED_Action, @FANG_Together, and #StopGasExports

Photos are available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/seedcoalition

Additional statements from Calvert County residents are available at https://seedcoalition.wordpress.com/2014/11/10/statements-on-dominion-cove-point-lng-by-calvert-county-residents/

Note: The photos on the SEED Coalition Flickr are, for the most part, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license. We not sticklers for copyright (let the info flow!), but pictures are one of the ways we get our message out. We ask that you attribute our pictures to “SEED Coalition” for that purpose. (If they’re not ours, it will give the source in the caption. Same deal: please follow the terms of the license, which will usually be the same.) Otherwise, go wild.

 

Gas Export Foes Arrested at Cove Point Construction Site

Cetology

By Anne Meador

Eleven people, including two photographers, were arrested on November 4 at the Maryland construction site of a pier to service Cove Point LNG, a natural gas export facility.

Nine activists wearing blue jumpsuits and yellow hardhats scaled a massive dirt mound at the site. Three protestors were stopped by sheriff’s deputies, but six reached the summit and held a banner aloft saying, “WE > Dominion Profits”.

They sat down as they were approached by law enforcement officers, who then cuffed them. The officers led some down the dirt hill but carried others.

The nine protestors were charged with trespassing and failure to obey. The two photographers were charged with trespassing. All were held in jail overnight.

“I see the huge risks that [Cove Point] poses,” said Dr. Margaret Flowers, a protestor who climbed the hill. “The risks to the surrounding community are huge, and that alone is…

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Activists Shut Down Fracking Industry Coalition’s Office

DSC_0017

Chesapeake Earth First! Stops Business As Usual at America’s Natural Gas Alliance

August 20, 2014

WASHINGTON, DC — In a strong statement of opposition, two activists locked their necks to the front doors of the building that hosts the offices of America’s Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA) while a crowd of supporters held signs around them. This action was taken by Chesapeake Earth First! as part of the Rise Together mobilization, a series of actions and events against extreme energy perpetrators from August 16-24.

The activists locked to the doors wore shirts saying “DC says no to LNG exports” and “Maryland says no to LNG exports,” representing the places they live and their opposition to the Cove Point liquid natural gas (LNG) export facility and liquefaction plant proposed to be built by Dominion Energy in Southern Maryland. ANGA is a strong supporter of the project. One of ANGA’s members, Cabot Oil and Gas Corporation, signed a 20-year agreement to supply the Cove Point facility with fracked gas from across the northeastern US.

“ANGA is the problem, smoothing the way for the gas industry to run ramshod over the health and well-being of the rest of us,” said Donny Williams, one of the activists blocking the doors. “Fracking cannot be performed without the toxic mix of chemicals it uses eventually finding their way to the water table. Our politicians and decision-makers know this, but ANGA exists to help them turn a blind eye.”

“The proposed Cove Point project would be destructive to the entire region, from Cove Point itself in Calvert County, through the compressor stations that would feed it, and all the way through to the Marcellus Shale that would be fracked more heavily once the price of natural gas rises due to exports,” added Jesse Schulz, the other Chesapeake EF! activist attached to ANGA’s doors.

Chesapeake Earth First! is a local faction of a global no-compromise environmental movement. Working throughout the Chesapeake Bay region, Chesapeake Earth First! has been primarily focusing on stopping natural gas and coal exports from the mid-Atlantic. Increasingly, exports are the component that is funding horrendous energy extraction practices like mountaintop removal coal mining and widespread fracking.

More than 30 groups from around the US and the world are involved in the Rise Together mobilization. Halfway through its time period, Rise Together events have included blocking coal trains in the Northern Rockies, conducting a sit-in in a US congressman’s office in Rhode Island and holding a camp in Pennsylvania to teach skills to better organize against fracking where it happens.

For more information, visit http://www.risetogether.us